Oh, She Section, it's been a while. Mainly because I couldn't decide what to write about next, here, in this little space, and then I went back and saw that, more than any other topic, friendship was mentioned most, specifically, "making friends with other mothers" and/or "the relationship between mothers and their child-free friends."
In fact, the most "liked" comment in the bunch was this: write about how you feel about childless adults - your friends without children, etc.
Which kind of blew my mind. And then I thought back to those early days with Archer and how I had convinced myself that I could only hang out with moms from now on...
Because for whatever reason, it is assumed that once we become mothers, we must segregate ourselves from the childless.
Because only a fellow mother could understand.
Because new moms join new mom groups.
Because it's just easier this way.
Because that's what I'm supposed to do... right?
None of my friends had kids when I became a mother, which sucked. Or at least, that's what I told myself. I felt very sorry for myself and my lack of mom friends. So sorry in fact that I closed my old blog (about being myself) and started a new one (about being a mom) because I didn't want anyone who knew me as a mother to know about me before I was a mother.
Because fellow mothers would surely judge me.
Because new moms only write about being new moms.
Because it was just easier that way.
Because that's what I was supposed to do... right?
I spent a lot of time those first months writing about "mom friends" as a sort of calling card. I hoped that "if you build it, they will come" style, people would find me on my lonesome woe-is-me island, a lighthouse of potential friendship and soul sisterness, pledging allegiance to our makeshift receiving blanket flag.
And to our new motherhood, for which it stands.
Girl's Gone Child's 2005 "catchphrase" was literally, welcome to the new titty flashing all nighter... And "who says motherhood means tattoo removal and moving to the suburbs?" which was just me trying to define myself for potential suitors who were, like, "me too, girl. I have tattoos high five."
Such are the hazards of writing publicly. You have to live with yourself and your archives. You have to live with a book you wrote during a time in your life you were in no place to write a book. You want to talk about trolling? Nobody trolls a blog quite like its author(s). I am the meanest commenter of them all against myself. I bring all this up because it's important to note that at the very least, we have growth to show for our time. Because there was a time I TRULY thought I needed to befriend different versions of myself AKA young (city) moms who had tattoos.
Which never happened.
I never befriended any "young tattooed city moms" because (duh) neither of those things really mattered.
All of this to say that the Internet was kind of a soul-saver for me because it was where I first discovered the power of an ageless, label-less(ish) community: women aged 14-94 all in one space relating to the same subjects, many of whom were in fact "new mothers," MOST of whom were very different than the person I perceived myself to be. This is when/why I realized that being a mother had nothing to do with being a mother. Which brings to me this sample taken from a wonderful post written by my friend, Felicia Sullivan -- something I hope you will read, too. Because not only is Felicia incredibly wise, she's also incredibly warm, helpful, generous and the very definition of "mother," even though she doesn't have kids.
In her words:
For most of my 16-plus-year career, I’ve made it a point to devote a great deal of my time to mentorship, assembling a motley lot of smart, ambitious women, who ferret me out for advice on everything from internal team conflicts to salary negotiations to feeling confident about their ability and their drive to succeed. Over the years I’ve heard myself labeled as a “den mother,” a lioness protective of her cubs, a strong, sometimes difficult leader, who will always follow a colleague into a conference room and hold them as they cry for twenty minutes straight. Even after I resigned from a social media marketing agency where I served as a managing partner, I still keep in touch with my kids, and I tell them that I can’t wait to witness their inevitable bloom. I tell them that I’m always there if they need me.THAT'S motherhood, man.
This is, too.
But so is that.
Having children is not what binds us as friends or as women or as a community.
It took me joining a mom's group (and then very quickly dropping out of a mom's group) to realize that "having children" is not enough of a foundation for a friendship. The world is bloated with beautiful souls and interesting minds and mothers, some of whom are overlooked in this community because they are not mothers in the way many of us are. Which is a huge loss for all of us.
It was for me.
These days, some of my friends have children and some of them do not, and I have never been happier. Not that playgroups and making friends with fellow moms in one's community can't be awesome. It can be great of course, of course. But just like motherhood brings out the best in some people it also brings out the crazy in others and I have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to mama judgement in my personal life. And besides, I live with my family every day. I'd much rather talk about other things when I'm amongst friends. LET'S PLEASE TALK ABOUT OTHER THINGS!
As for my kids, they went and made their own friends just like I made mine. They made friends at school and camp and in groups they created themselves. Because similarly aged kids don't guarantee a friendship. Because eventually I realized that it wasn't my job to "socialize" my kids. (In the same way it wasn't my kid's job to "socialize" me.)
to friends whose children have formed bonds with mine and sometimes the perfect storm occurs and it's like, WHOA YOU TWO ARE SOUL BROTHERS, AWESOME! But in my experience, that has been the exception, not the rule. And that is perfectly fine.
Meanwhile, our house is usually full of adults, my friends who are kind enough to come to me knowing that I have a hard time, uh, leaving the house. And these friends have become my kids' friends as well - mentors and confidantes in ways I will never be because, well, I'm their mother, and aunties, are frankly way cooler.
The women I am fortunate enough to call friends are women I have bonded with on a personal/emotional/soulsisterfisttothechestthankyouforgettingme level. They are all mothers in ways that they have defined for themselves. As friends and colleagues, sisters and confidantes.
Because definition is arbitrary.
Because motherhood is relative.
Because classification is a waste of time.
Because mom groups aren't for everyone. (It's taken me 32 years to recognize that groups are not my thing. And that's totally okay.)
Because what "we're supposed to do" only counts if its right for us.
Because we're allll different.
Because thank god for that.
What about you? What has your friend experience been like? Do you feel pressure to make "mom" friends once you become one? How has motherhood changed your friendships? How have your friends who have become mothers changed? What have your experiences been like with mom groups? How do you sustain adult friendships? Looking forward to your comments, all. xo